Japanese-funded UNESCO project improves inventories and documentation in Sub-Saharan African Museums
UNESCO partnered with the African Heritage School (EPA) in Benin to train 33 professionals from 30 museums from 17 countries in how to improve inventories and documentation in Sub-Saharan African museums during a two-year capacity-building programme funded by the Japan Funds-in-Trust to UNESCO.
The programme focused on francophone African museums and included an intensive one-week classroom training at the School of African Heritage (EPA) in August 2010, which was followed by 18 months of distance tutoring by e-mail in order to help the participants put the theory and skills they learned on documentation into practice in their own museums. Two field training workshops were carried-out in August 2011 at the National Museum of Togo and in September 2011 at the National Museum of Arts and Traditions of Gabon (MNATG). These on-site training sessions allowed the entire documentation team of the museums to receive an overview of documentation and inventories combined with hands-on practice and guidance in bringing the level of documentation in their respective museums up to international standards.
Eight participating museums also received special assistance to help them carry-out or finalize the documentation work or inventories, including: the Regional Museum of Sikasso (Mali); the National Museum of Congo (Brazzaville); the Institute of National Museums of Congo (DRC); the National Museum of Guinea (Guinea); the Museum of the Centre for Research and Documentation of Senegal (Senegal); the regional museum of Natitingou (Benin), the Ethnographic Museum Alexandre Sénou Adande in Porto Novo (Benin); and the Museum of Civilizations (Ivory Coast)—which needed emergency assistance with its inventories and documentation following the looting and destruction it faced during the civil unrest related to the political elections in spring 2011.
This programme focused on applying methods and methodology, as well as pedagogical tools, produced during the partnership of UNESCO with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and the Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) for the preventive conservation of endangered collections in developing countries. “We are honored to have partnered with EPA on this important capacity-building programme, which has made such a significant impact on improving inventories and documentation in francophone African museums,” said Karalyn Monteil, a culture specialist in UNESCO’s Museums Section.
“We are grateful to the Japanese Government for their financial support of this programme,” she added, “and we remain hopeful that funds can be identified to support its continuation in a second phase focusing on Anglophone museums in Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Contact: Karalyn Monteil, Desk Officer for Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean, UNESCO Museums Section